This article is a series of posts published by the Danish Tech Startups Association on their LinkedIn page. Their aim is to build a better tomorrow with startups and founders. You can read more about them here.

Kasper and Martin of Drivi are here to change the status quo!

We chatted with Kasper Tikjøb and Martin Haslund Johansson who were originally the investors of Drivi but now have gone on to become its CTO and CEO, respectively.

Kasper is a serial entrepreneur and investor and is also a founder of Tikweb. He initially invested in Drivi and when its original co-founders left the company, he took on the helm of its Chief Technology Officer.

Martin is also a serial entrepreneur, investor and consultant who initially invested in Drivi and took the charge of its CEO after the original co-founders left.

One of the co-founders left Drivi a couple of years ago while the other left it prior to this summer. Kasper and Martin have decided to keep running Drivi because in their own words,

“We make a difference with what we do and that is extremely important for us. We want to make the driving schools in Denmark the most modern and innovative driving school system in the world. And digitising driving schools can help us do that”.

As Drivi has a very niche customer segment, the sum of customers in the segment is very finite. Also, they operate in a highly-regulated market which makes it a bit challenging as well.

However, Drivi is a product-driven company. And a lot of automation helps them execute their day-to-day tasks. When it comes to the team of Drivi, other than Martin as its CEO and Kasper as its CTO, they also have the support of developers from Tikweb, Kasper’s company. Drivi is fully bootstrapped as of now. But might reach out to investors in the future.

Moving on to work-life balance. Both Kapser and Martin emphasise that having an understanding family is key to building a business that succeeds.

“Sometimes you just have to work but other times you get the flexibility which you don’t get in a 9-5 job. So, it’s not necessarily all bad or good. Entrepreneurship is a way of life. It’s up to your mindset to make it either good or bad.”

Martin elaborates

How can you compete against your own country?!

You can’t!

Scaling a company that digitises driving schools in Denmark has its unique set of challenges that Kasper and Martin cover in the second part of Drivi’s story.

Drivi is a learning management system for driving schools. It is a complete administrative software system for driving schools that supports their regulatory needs and helps them to:

  • automate administration,
  • smoothen student interaction,
  • manage lesson plans and appointments,
  • expand their businesses

And much more!

However, when you are scaling a company that must work in close coordination with the state, municipalities and unions, you are bound to rely on government data and APIs. But what if your own government is not ready to give you access to those data and APIs because they want to build a state-controlled monopoly?

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what might happen with Drivi.

According to Kasper and Martin, Kommunernes Landsforening (KL), the union that is the association of all the municipalities in Denmark, wants to build a state-controlled competitor to Drivi.

“Just like they build Aula to compete with Famly. The Danish government is once again competing against its own homegrown company. Instead of cooperating with Drivi, helping us integrate with the system and helping us boost innovation at both the national and local level and ultimately improve driving experience across Denmark”

laments Kasper

Kasper and Martin believe that it would be amazing to have an API-first driven approach like Estonia’s. According to them, an open and transparent Køreprovebooking’s interface that will collaborate with Drivi will save the government 80 million DKK that they want to spend on building a state-controlled app.

In the beginning of 2022, Drivi along with a few other members of the Association tried to reach out to the state and resolve the issue of open APIs but to no avail.

“It really saddens us that despite having Drivi, which is making driving learning experiences smoother and better for teachers, students and driving schools and could be made better with public procurement, the state is not ready to meet us in the middle. And want to drive us out by building our competition”.

Martin says

Other than the Danish state and KL, none of Drivi’s private competitors are as much integrated with the municipality and the police as Drivi has integrated.

“We would have been much further if Denmark were willing to cooperate with us, if Køreprovebooking were willing to share their APIs or allow us access to them, which KL is blocking”.

Kasper thinks

Hence, in the next 6-12 month, Kasper and Martin are focussed on achieving the integration with the Danish transportation and driver’s tests authorities and the access to the Køreprovebooking’s APIs. Additionally, they will be implementing a new invoicing system to control the entire money flow for driving schools.

Why is the Danish state not supportive of its own start-ups driving innovation?

In 5 years, Kasper and Martin would like to expand Drivi internationally. They would like Drivi to be the gold standard of safety for driving schools and getting a DL.

And Denmark can help a lot with that! It’d be great once the state would start collaborating with Drivi as that would help them build a safe and world-class driving school experience and driving school system for students and teachers alike.

Accelerating the same system to the governmental levels, a model that is easy to implement, used with accountability all the way through and exporting it to other countries would be beneficial for not only Drivi but for Denmark as well.

However, given the difficulties that Drivi is facing to scale in Denmark, Kasper and Martin are looking into other markets.

It really baffles Kasper, Martin and us that the state doesn’t understand that open APIs are in their and the public’s interest. And Denmark won’t be the first country in the world whose state-controlled data is run by open APIs. Estonia is one of them.

Nevertheless, there are some good aspects of scaling a company in Denmark. A digitally advanced public and private sector helped Drivi digitalize the driving learning experience easily. Great infrastructure, good internet connectivity and mobile network also make it easier for students to access Drivi’s servers while learning how to drive.

Just that instead of competing against their own homegrown start-up, Denmark must collaborate with them to build and scale a world-class driving school system.

Kasper and Martin ended the conversation with many sensible recommendations to aspiring entrepreneurs:

1.      To validate your ideas in the precise, correct user segments. Otherwise, you won’t know whether your customers are really willing to pay for your service.

2.      To get investments early enough, the faster you can validate your investments, the better it is for you to get to the next rounds needed to grow your business.

3.      To hire competent, professional and experienced people. Do not hire an XYZ or a friend or a family member because they rub well.

4.      Lest, you don’t have the resources to hire experienced professionals, prefer going no-code/low-code where you’ll have more control rather than depending on a single person.

5.      Do a Nike!

We thank Kasper and Martin for an illuminating conversation and wish you both the very best in scaling in Denmark and beyond! We support your journey and will continue amplifying your voices in our conversations with the politicians.